Much of what we are doing when we step onto our yoga mats is to do with healing. When we stretch out our bodies in the various yoga postures we are releasing physical tension from our bodies but this tension may have manifested in the body as a result of emotional or mental stress or tension. Our yoga practice is therefore a holistic practice that takes us as a “whole” working on mind, body and spirit to help us on our journey to healing.
This is on my mind because I watched an amazing documentary the other day called “Heal”. It is a few years old but I only came across it a couple of weeks ago. It was previously available on Netflix (which is where I found it) and has now moved over to Amazon Prime although you can buy it on DVD too. I watched it once, am watching it again now and also bought the book that accompanies the documentary, it is THAT good!
The documentary is about 1 hour 45 minutes long but in a nutshell it talks about and explores the idea that our emotions, beliefs, thoughts and mind have a direct effect on our health and healing. As practitioners of yoga you already know this to a degree in terms of our work with the chakras (energy centres). Our chakras relate to a given physical area in the body but also connect to particular emotions and emotional states and relate on a mental/mind level too. When there are blockages in any given chakra this affects us all on three levels: physical, emotional and mental. So from even a basic understanding of the chakras we know that our emotions, mind and physical body are interconnected.
“Heal” goes a little bit deeper into this mind-body connection offering the notion that we can use our minds to heal our bodies, that much “dis-ease” comes from unresolved conflicts in our past perhaps or situations we have not resolved that affect us in our present. I am simplifying here, of course, and I recommend that you watch the documentary if you find this idea interesting but it really resonated with me. A journey to healing takes more than just medicine, it requires a holistic approach: a look to your physical body – how you move it, what you put into it; your emotional body – what emotions are you suppressing or not expressing, how can you give voice to/release buried emotions, is anything you’re not expressing holding you back; and your mind/mental body – are negative thoughts becoming toxic, are you allowing your thoughts to control your actions (in a negative way) but equally how can you use your mind as a tool for positive change? These are just examples but all aspects that we can address on our journey to healing.
My “take-away” from watching the documentary is that I need to do some inner work. I try hard and work constantly on trying to eat healthily and in a way that nourishes and supports my body, I also try to move my body in a way that keeps my physical body healthy. These are aspects within my life that are a constant work in progress and which have been in my direct line of vision/thought for decades. What I hadn’t really considered was how holding onto negative experiences dating back even as far as childhood might potentially become toxic to my physical body and this is what the documentary explores. The idea that our past if not “processed”, for want of a better word, can become toxic to our bodies and that by healing the past we can heal our present. It didn’t say it quite in these words but this is my take-away from the documentary. It also talked about stress in general and how toxic stress is to our bodies to the point of being a major contributory factor to disease and chronic health conditions. Reverse the stress and you can reverse the damage. Sounds simple but we all know that this takes a bit of work, mind work in particular and a commitment to working on our perspective.
So, I bought myself a beautiful notebook and am using it to work through any obstacles from my past or present that I feel restrict me. I kept personal diaries for years so I am used to expressing myself in words but I am focusing solely on working through anything in my past that might be holding me back or restricting me in my present. This will be different for everyone as we are all different and will have had different life experiences but think about what events contributed towards how you see yourself and/or who you are as a person today. By this I mean negative self-beliefs, experiences/relationships in our lives that undermine our feelings about ourselves. Our experiences naturally shape us but some of those experiences may have left a less positive feeling and these experiences/relationships/memories need to be addressed and released as much as possible to enable healing in the present.
I just wanted this post to be a little food for thought really as I found the documentary so thought provoking and helped guide me in a direction that I think may help me through some of my own blockages. You can combine this healing journey with the chakras, if you like, by working through areas of your life that relate to each chakra and work your way up, or perhaps something comes immediately to mind and you know that is the event/experience/relationship that needs to be worked on first. All this inner work will help with your growth on a spiritual level and although it won’t happen overnight it will hopefully help you move forward in your life in a way that releases you from anything that may have been and/or may still be holding you back. Namaste.